May 25, 2010

Portugal – The Top Ten Reasons to take your Family

Atop Lousa Mountain

Did you know Portugal used to rule the world? Now it’s a sleepy little country off the beaten path which frankly makes its vast history even more fascinating. Here are the reasons we think this was one of the coolest places we’ve ever been:

10: The climate is perfect. Summers along coastal Portugal are warm and breezy – but not hot and humid like its inland cousins.

9: Treats. You may have enjoyed a pastry or two in your life, but really you have not lived until you have consumed a warm Portuguese Pasteis de Nata. Maybe even two.

8: Learn to sing ‘Uma Casa Portuguesa’ by Amalia Rodrigues, Portugal’s beloved Queen of Fado.

7: The women selling pecans in Nazare. It’s not often you get to buy freshly roasted nuts from a tiny woman in full native dress. And one who dances too! I’ll say no more, but trust me – this is a moment your family will remember and reflect on for years to come.

6: The Amarante water park. Maybe you’ve done the water slide, wave pool thing close to home. But to join the locals in Portugal, with a backdrop of historic vistas, is really unforgettable. Don’t forget to order the Tosta Mista for lunch, along with a cold bottle of Orange Fanta.

5: Kayaking on the Mondego river. Portuguese adventurers escort you down a rushing river, with plenty of time for swimming and a picnic too.

4: Hiking to the shale village on Lousa Mountain. History here is not just in the cities. Enjoy a wonderful walk up the mountainside and discover an ancient way of life that still exists today. Don’t want to hike? Ride in a comfortable van and meet the hikers at the top.

3: Fabulous hotels. Adventure often means simple hotels in out of the way places; not in Portugal where you’ll sleep in palaces and manor houses. While everyone is busy having fun you’ll also luxuriate in European sophistication.

2: Palaces, moats, and gardens. Beautiful spaces to invite learning, encourage imagination, and expend energy. Every spot you see simply overflows with fascinating tales and history. All ages will be captivated by the spell of Portugal’s magic.

1: Portugal is a balance of history and cultural relevancy. It’s ancient but new. Your teen will relate to these contrasts. Your teen might even thank you for the experience. Mine did!